On the birthday of the restaurant's patron saint, poet Langston Hughes, Busboys and Poets held a grand opening in Hyattsville yesterday to celebrate the launch of their new in-restaurant bookstore.
The name Busboys and Poets was inspired by Hughe's life story, which saw the celebrated jazz-era African-American poet rise from humble beginnings working as a busboy at the high-society Wardman Park Hotel in Woodley Park.
Busboys and Poets, which has become a regional restaurant chain with four locations spread across Washington, Virginia and Maryland, has always had a connection to the world of literature. Their first location at 14th and V streets NW has hosted a bookstore run by the non-profit Teaching for Change.
This, however, marks the first time the store will be directly operating a book store.
"We believe books help build community," said Pamela Pinnock, director of communications, marketing and events at Busboys and Poets. "There has been a real push towards online books and e-readers, but we are a community which feels that the love of holding a book will never go away."
On hand for the grand opening was Richard Morris, a Hyattsville author with two novels under his belt. Busboys and Poets now stocks his books, Well Considered – a historical thriller set in Prince George's County focusing on a man's investigation into the death of his grandfather – and Cologne No. 10 For Men – an anti-war satire set in Vietnam – on a shelf near the register reserved for local authors.
Morris welcomes the new book store into town, saying that he prefers buying his books in person, a task which has become hard to do in the local area over the last few years.
"If you're looking for a special book for a special person, you have to browse to look at the book and leaf through its pages. You don't get that online," said Morris as he waited only steps away from the bookstore for his lunch to arrive amid a bustling mid-day rush in Busboy's main dining room.
The bookstore selection caters to left-of-center political bent, though it's not all the case. Some beautiful editions of Ayn Rand's work were seen on bookshelves.
"The titles by Ayn Rand were a special order which somebody didn't pick up," said Pinnock.
Oh. Nevermind, then.
Pinnock explained that the bookstore's focus will be on progressive authors, social justice issues, local politics and diversity.
The bookstore also carries a large selection of children's literature for all ages and reading levels.